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Why we should March for Science

By Ali and Jess

Five reasons YOU should March for Science TOMORROW:

  1. You believe that government decisions should be guided by facts and evidence. March for Informed Public Policy!
  2. To say no to restrictions being placed on scientists communicating their research, as we are currently seeing in the U.S. Show your support for Open Communication of Knowledge!
  3. For Stable Science Investment, for security in our future jobs!
  4. For a science informed future and a well-informed community. We need kids to learn and love science, they are the future! We need Universal STEM Literacy!
  5. Finally, science is our tool to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems; it is worth marching for!

 

march3

 

“Anti-science agendas and policies have been advanced by politicians on both sides of the aisle, and they harm everyone — without exception. Science should neither serve special interests nor be rejected based on personal convictions. At its core, science is a tool for seeking answers. It can and should influence policy and guide our long-term decision-making.” – marchforscience.com

 

Meet us tomorrow at 11 am, on the Parliamentary lawns (Federation Mall) 

For more information go to marchforsciencecanberra.org
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All images sourced from marchforsciencecanberra.org

Why you should study abroad in Australia

By Jo

For my blogging debut I thought I would share some of my experiences with moving to the other side of the world to start my PhD – the good the bad and the ugly (but mainly the good). A year on into my studies is probably a good time to write this as I’ve been here long enough to become settled but haven’t yet been over come by the demon thesis.

2014-01-30 10.01.12
Figure 1 – My first encounter with the Australian residents – a water dragon (the ugly?).

Firstly, why did I decide to make the move from sunny Leicester, UK to wet and windy Canberra, Australia*? Well, at some point in my life I wanted to live abroad and I’ve always wanted to study for a PhD – so why not kill two birds with one stone? After mentioning this to my master’s project supervisor, he pointed me towards the Research School of Earth Science, ANU, where he also studied for his PhD. I looked into it and made contact with my potential supervisor, Hrvoje Tkalčić – it was pretty strange having an interview at 11pm due to the time difference! So after submitting my application, waiting a few months, and a few more, I was accepted, found somewhere to live, and the next thing I knew I arrived in Canberra in the middle of a 40 °C heat wave. The first thing that crossed my mind was “what have I done, how will I cope with this heat!?” Turns out I needn’t have worried, the body is very good at adapting to, for the most, perfect weather. My supervisor, Hrvoje, kindly greeted me at the airport, we went to grab some lunch and I was introduced to some of the Australian residents (figure 1).

Figure 2 - my academic family (I unwisely chose this photo day the day to wear my Star Wars t-shirt which now is on the internet for evermore)
Figure 2 – my excellent academic “family” (I unwisely chose this photo day the day to wear my Star Wars t-shirt which is now on the internet for evermore)

In my opinion, if you want to move abroad, doing it for your PhD is a great time. In many cases, especially if you come straight from an undergrad/masters like me, you have very little tying you down and stopping you moving. When you arrive, you will also have the support of an academic institution around you in case anything goes wrong or you need advice or financial support. Your research group turns into your academic “family” so you always have people to hang out with or talk to if you have any concerns. Mine were great at making me feel settled and answering my many research and non- research related questions (figure 2).

Living abroad also gives you that extra push to become fully independent. In my case during my undergrad I was living a 40 min drive from home, so was home most weekends (even with the occasional load of washing – sorry Dad!). Living on the other side of the world means you can’t do that. Even you have a problem during the day where it would be nice to hear the advice of a family member, you can’t even phone as they will be sleeping – so you learn to solve things yourself, and if I were to be very cliché about it, become an actual adult (maybe)!

FIgure 3 - team "Subductors" (get it?) arise victorious in their gruelling triathlon!
FIgure 3 – team “Subductors” (get it?) arise victorious from their gruelling triathlon!

Now onto the (not so) bad. These are very Canberra specific and are probably more like minor grievances – those of you who have spent the last year with me probably know exactly what I’m going to say here! Number 1 – the temperature inside houses. Canberra gets very cold winters (down to -8 at night) and none of the houses are insulated which quite frankly, baffles me. However this is not a reason not to move to Canberra, I just enjoy a good shameless rant. Number two – the public transport system – not so great in Canberra. However I have solved this problem with spending far too much money buying a bike – Canberra really is great for biking, and anything outdoorsy in general. In fact, in the last year I have done outdoor things I would have never even thought I could do, for example, climbing, rogaining and entering triathlons and even winning one as part of a team! (Figure 3)

So a year on, I can honestly say moving abroad has been one of the best decisions of my life. You just have to remember that even though you are very far away you are only a flight from home** – it’s crazy how small the world really is.


* was that right?

** or two in my case!  This is advice I was given before I moved and it really is so true.  Travel may be expensive but it really is easy to just jump on a plane.

Best of 2013: How do clouds effect solar panel output?

welcompage_headshot
Nick Engerer, a researcher from Fenner School is looking at the relationship between weather events and solar energy output in Canberra.

By Claire

At the beginning of this year, I was at the annual AMOS Conference in Melbourne. It was Friday morning, and there wasn’t a lot of paleoclimatology going on, so I decided to head along to a session on solar energy.

Speaking in this session was Nick Engerer, a researcher from Fenner School at The ANU. Nick’s area of interest is the link between weather events and solar energy output. Now, this is an area of huge interest, especially now that we’re trying to move more towards green energy sources. But one of the key questions that keeps popping up is, “what happens when it’s cloudy?”

As part of Nick’s research, he has developed a real-time website, which shows you the weather across Canberra, and the related impact on solar energy production. Nick is working on the idea that on partly cloudy days, there will be at least some solar panels that are still able to produce power, even if some are not seeing a lot of the sun. And that’s exactly what you can see on his website.

Nick has written up a guest post for us to explain how to use his website, and introduce you to some of the cool features. I encourage you all to take a look. If you’re interested in his work, you can also subscribe to his blog and follow him on twitterContinue reading “Best of 2013: How do clouds effect solar panel output?”

Earth Science Week 2013 in Canberra

ESW-thumbEarth Science Week is an annual event, aiming to help the public gain a better understanding and appreciation for the Earth Sciences and to encourage stewardship of the Earth. This year’s Earth Science Week will be held from October 13-19 and will celebrate the theme “Mapping Our World.”

Earth Science Week 2013 aims to engage young people and others in learning how geoscientists, geographers, and other mapping professionals use maps to represent land formations, natural resource deposits, fault lines, geologic heritage, and more.

As part of Earth Science Week, Geoscience Australia will be running a series free public events around Canberra, including a photographic competition and a geocaching activity. Continue reading “Earth Science Week 2013 in Canberra”

How do clouds effect solar panel output?

welcompage_headshot
Nick Engerer, a researcher from Fenner School is looking at the relationship between weather events and solar energy output in Canberra.

By Claire

At the beginning of this year, I was at the annual AMOS Conference in Melbourne. It was Friday morning, and there wasn’t a lot of paleoclimatology going on, so I decided to head along to a session on solar energy.

Speaking in this session was Nick Engerer, a researcher from Fenner School at The ANU. Nick’s area of interest is the link between weather events and solar energy output. Now, this is an area of huge interest, especially now that we’re trying to move more towards green energy sources. But one of the key questions that keeps popping up is, “what happens when it’s cloudy?”

As part of Nick’s research, he has developed a real-time website, which shows you the weather across Canberra, and the related impact on solar energy production. Nick is working on the idea that on partly cloudy days, there will be at least some solar panels that are still able to produce power, even if some are not seeing a lot of the sun. And that’s exactly what you can see on his website.

Nick has written up a guest post for us to explain how to use his website, and introduce you to some of the cool features. I encourage you all to take a look. If you’re interested in his work, you can also subscribe to his blog and follow him on twitterContinue reading “How do clouds effect solar panel output?”

Earthquake in Canberra!

By Nick

Recording of the Canberra earthquake this morning by seismometers from the Australian Seismometers in Schools network. http://www.facebook.com/ausisnetwork

There was an earthquake in Canberra this morning at 5:09am, which, as you might expect, has made everyone here at the department a bit excited this morning. Not that most of us felt a thing. Only one person at morning tea today reported feeling anything, and she blames the fact she was on the second floor of a building, didn’t have the door quite shut so it rattled, and her bed was on wheels! To cap it all off she’s from New Zealand anyway, so wasn’t impressed at all by the size of the Australian quakes.

I myself have never felt an earthquake. My ability to sleep through almost anything came to the fore last night, as it did last time I was in an earthquake, back in the UK.

So what do we know about this quake. It’s very early to tell much but it was obviously quite a small earthquake, around magnitude 3.7. It’s epicenter (the place where the earthquake originated) was 40km to the west of the city between Canberra and Tumut, and the quake was felt up to 50km away. Continue reading “Earthquake in Canberra!”

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